Restaurant News

Restaurant openings around the Triangle

April 27, 2012 

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Lilly’s Pizza to open in Durham

Lilly’s Pizza, that funky institution in Raleigh’s Five Points neighborhood, is now opening a second location in Durham.

Owner Jon Garrison says they hope to open in a couple weeks in the former Pop’s location at 810 W. Peabody St. in downtown Durham. The space will double the seats of the Raleigh restaurant. The only other changes, Garrison says, are that they can serve liquor and there will be wait staff instead of counter service. Everything else – the menu, the vibe, the focus on organic and local ingredients – will be the same, Garrison says.

Laotian restaurant to open in downtown Raleigh this summer

A Laotian restaurant called Bida Manda is opening this summer in the former Duck & Dumpling space in downtown Raleigh.

Owner Vansana Nolintha, who is originally from Laos, says they hope to open in late July or early August.

Nolintha, 26, is opening the restaurant with his sister, Vanvisa, 24.The siblings came to the United States in 1998 to learn English and finish school in Greensboro. Then Vansana attended N.C. State University, studying chemistry, art and design and world religions. He went on to get a master’s degree in peace and conflict studies from Trinity College in Ireland. All of that training led him to food and a desire to open a restaurant that reflects his personal narrative. His sister seems suited to join him after studying hotel and hospitality management at UNC-Greensboro.

So what is Laotian food? Nolintha explains it as a cross between Thai and Vietnamese food with French technique. Nolintha plans to use recipes that he learned from his mother and hire a chef to execute them. They will offer a small, seasonal menu.

The restaurant is at 222 S. Blount St., Raleigh. The website is

Farm-to-table restaurant opening at Chatham Mills

Oakleaf, a new farm-to-table restaurant, may be open by May 16 at Pittsboro’s Chatham Mills complex.

Chef-owner Brendan Cox, who most recently worked at Peak City Grill, describes the restaurant as “progressive American” with a farm-to-table focus. The menu will change every day. Cox and his wife, a native of Sanford, are excited about opening in Pittsboro.

“Chatham County is one of the few counties where land is turning back to farmland,” he said. “It seemed a natural fit for us.”

The 2,800-square-foot restaurant will have 64 table seats and eight seats at the bar. It will be located at 480 Hillsboro St., Suite 500, Pittsboro, near Chatham Marketplace.

Check the restaurant’s Facebook page,, for sample menus, construction updates and a final opening date.

Soul food restaurant opens in downtown Cary

EJ’s Soul Food restaurant opened last month in downtown Cary in the space formerly occupied by Cindy’s House Cafe.

Owner Erma “E.J.” Jones says she and her husband retired last year and decided to move to the Triangle from Maryland after enjoying vacations in North Carolina. Jones says she and her husband had owned a day care but wanted to open a business in retirement. Given her upbringing, a restaurant seemed like a good fit. “Being the oldest of eight children and the oldest girl, you know who did all the cooking,” Jones says.

Their restaurant, Jones says, is the opposite of fast food; everything is homemade.

The menu includes Maryland crab cakes without any fillers, meatloaf, fried chicken; sides from baked beans to collard greens, fried okra to macaroni and cheese; homemade desserts including chocolate cake and sweet potato pie; and bread made fresh daily.

Diners get an entree with two sides plus bread. Desserts and drinks are sold separately.

The restaurant is at 140 E. Chatham St., Cary, 919-481-9411. The hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays, 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Fridays, noon-9 p.m. Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays.

Send restaurant news to Andrea Weigl at or 919-829-4848.

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